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Chapter 9. Designing for Pleasure > Case Study: Sony Trans Com's P@ssport

Case Study: Sony Trans Com's P@ssport

In 1997, Sony Trans Com approached us with a remarkable design problem. Sony Trans Com is Sony Corporation's Irvine, California, division, responsible for the design and manufacture of in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems. In-flight entertainment—movies, TV shows, and video games in commercial aircraft—is a large and lucrative business. Sony Trans Com had developed a new generation of technology that brought a new level of capability to airline passengers. The most impressive capability of the new system, called P@ssport, was true video-on-demand (VOD). VOD lets Tricia in seat 23A begin watching When Harry Met Sally 10 minutes after takeoff, and it lets Anna in seat 16C start the same movie 45 minutes later—and either passenger can pause or rewind the show without affecting the other.

P@ssport pushed the envelope of IFE well beyond the current technical state of the art. Each seat back contained a video screen and a Pentium computer running Windows 95. In the front of the plane was a powerful array of computers with copious memory for content. A fiber-optic cable connected each seat to the array, with connector boxes placed every few rows throughout the plane, making the system blindingly fast and breathtakingly powerful.


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